Positional Asphyxia is real and is associated with the prone position. This is especially true in cases where an individual is physically exhausted and/or obese.
Individuals that are placed face down in the prone position with their extremities restrained behind their backs have to expend more work to breathe. This could also occur if the individual is in the prone position and has sufficient weight on their back for an extended period of time (a result of people attempting to control the individual). In both cases, individuals can fail to breathe adequately when they are in physically distressed situations made even worse if the individual is obese.
We have performed studies that demonstrate the sitting position is preferential to the prone position as reflected by respiratory and cardiac responses. Therefore, once the combative individual can be restrained it is best to place the individual in a seated position. By keeping the prone position to a minimum period of time, you reduce the risk of positional asphyxia.
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A restraint device called "The Wrap" and manufactured by Safe Restraints Inc., allows for the individual to be completely restrained and placed in a seated position. Studies showed that a restrained individual in "The Wrap" was able to breathe without restriction. By using this restraint device an individual can be restrained in a secure and safe manner that does not restrict the individual''s breathing and thereby reduce the risk of the subject asphyxiating.
Based on the research and studies performed, it is my opinion that "The Wrap" provides a safe and humane method of restraining a combative individual. "The Wrap" also eliminates the risks of positional asphyxiation caused by restraining an individual in the prone position.
Harry J. MacDannald, M.D.
130 La Casa Via #2-208
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Tel (925) 944-0166
Fax (925) 944-6355